MONTEREY. There has been controversy in academia over whether the groups of killer whales that frequent Monterey Bay are a newly identified community or whether they belong to a pre-existing branch of the population.
The Monterey-based California Killer Whale Project and half a dozen other non-profit marine science groups issued a joint statement on Friday challenging an October 4 article in Hakai Magazine, a publication of the Hakai Institute at the University. British Columbia.
The hype goes beyond the original headline of the article, which implied “a new species of killer whale.” The headline has since been renamed Outer Coast Killer Whale Secrets Revealing. But according to the joint statement, the idea for a new species of killer whale continues to be published in other news outlets around the world.
Lead study author Josh McInnes of the University of British Columbia said in an interview with the Monterey Herald Tuesday that he was also upset by the headline, which in no way reflects the essence of his and his colleagues’ research.
Nancy Black, director of research for the California Killer Whale Project, and Alice Schulman-Janiger, lead research biologist at the Monterey Group, joined other researchers to point out that the study, cited in the article as new, was already conducted three decades ago.
“(McInnes) distorted the data to exaggerate information that was not previously known,” Black said. “We know these whales well; I’ve been studying them for 30 years. He considered himself to be what other people did. “
McInnes responded to this claim by saying that the earlier study was indeed cited in the study, but either has not been updated for a long time or has not been published.
“If you don’t publish, then this is a problem,” he said.
Other organizations that have joined Black in denouncing the article include Bay Cetology, Whale Research Center, Ocean Wise, North Bay Oceanic Research Society, Orca Network, and Wild Orca.
All research in previous studies and in McInnes’ paper revolves around a subset of killer whales that feed predominantly in the outer coastal areas offshore from the continental shelf, including the Monterey Canyon. They feed on prey such as gray whale calves and elephant seals.
In addition, there is a group of inland coastal areas that feed mainly on coastal marine mammals such as seals. But they both belong to the same temporary group called Bigga’s killer whales. Native and temporary killer whales can be seen in relative proximity, but they will never participate in social interactions.
There are three main subspecies of killer whales – Bigg’s whales, perennial whales, and sea whales, which feed mainly on sharks. The latter can be found anywhere from 70 to 200 miles offshore and still hold many unsolved mysteries, Black said.
As the name suggests, native whales prey on salmon in the bays of the Pacific Northwest. However, Black notes that chinook salmon are in short supply, which is why many of the whales that live here are expanding their geography to survive.
McInnes argues that many of the whales that were the subject of his research were not cataloged, which means they were not photographed, and that any reference to “new” means individual whales that have not previously been photographed or cataloged.
Each individual killer whale has unique markings that can be compared to fingerprints, for example, on the spot on its saddle behind the dorsal fin.
The authors of the statement and McInnes agree that further research is needed to better understand the mysteries that remain to be revealed.